Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Greenwood Greatness by Kaydee Gearhart!

Going into this student teaching experience, I thought that I would have an impact on the lives of the students, but didn’t really think about how it would happen or the obstacles that I would have to overcome. Now, as I reflect back on my experience at Greenwood, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to student teach with Mr. Clark, who is an experienced teacher who was able to give me feedback.  The students at Greenwood are amazing.

I absolutely loved my student teaching experience at Greenwood! I love teaching agriculture! I have a passion for agriculture and working with students. I enjoyed my student teaching experience and I know that teaching agriculture is what I want to do for a career as the rest of my life. I have so much fun working with the students and even learning with them! I looked forward to each day of my student teaching experience. It was so rewarding to see where the students started and to see the amount of information that they learned. And seeing the “ahh-ha” moments when the light bulb came on for the students after working with them made it worth the frustrations that come along before the students “get it”. I love helping the students reach their full potential. I know that this is what I am supposed to do! The days went by so quickly, it was like I wasn’t even “working” because I enjoyed the entire experience at Greenwood! I got to know the students and build a rapport with them. I was also able to gain their respect and have fun while teaching and watching them learn. 

When I first started, it was all I could do to remember the names of the students that first week.  Now, I not only know their names, but I know their personalities, their interests, and how to motivate them!  Each student is unique and in order for me to be successful, I had to take the time to get to know each student.  This started with a simple “Hello, how are you today” in the beginning.  At the end of my student teaching experience, I have full conversations with students.  Some students come looking for advice, whether it is a question about a math homework problem, college, or they want to know if I like the picture of their prom dress.  Other students come to tell you all about their plans for the next Career Development Event that they want to participate in.  This did not just happen overnight.  I had to gain the trust and respect of the students before they trusted and respected me.  Building a rapport or professional relationship with the students is crucial!  I would say it’s one of the most important aspects of being an agricultural teacher!  You have to get to know them and their interests! In order for this to happen, you have to make an effort.  Talk to your students before and after class, take an interest in them and what they like (other than the class you are teaching) and just genuinely care about them.  This task is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. 

The first obstacle that I had to overcome was in my Small Gas Engines class where I taught a class of 17 senior boys.  Talk about a tough crowd… These boys didn’t want to be taught by a girl!  Because everyone knows that girls don’t know anything about small engines…. WRONG!  It took a few weeks to prove to them that I knew what I was talking about.  Once they realized that I actually do know what I am talking about, they began to gain respect for me.  This was a slow and gradual process.  Students accepted me on their own time, not mine.  I gained some student advocates who realized that I knew what I was talking about and they helped get other students back on task when they didn’t want to listen to me.  Slowly but surely, I made progress with each student.  Even up until the last week of student teaching I was making progress and breakthroughs with students. 

National FFA Week played a role in my ability to connect with students on a more personal level and build rapport with them because of the activities and events that were planned.  This made it possible to spend more time with them and talk to the students individually.  I learned about their interests and even goals in life!  Who knew that FFA Week would make a student open up about their life?! I also found that it was very beneficial to attend the basketball games. I had many of the starting players in my classes, and attending their basketball games made a huge difference in the classroom.

Another way that helped me make a connection with the students was talking with them and getting to know them during my planning period when they have study hall. These students are in the ag room and Mr. Clark originally “voluntold” them to help me do various things. By the end of my student teaching experience, they asked what they could do to help me out and I built an awesome professional relationship with these students. They were my main classroom advocates when their peers would not listen. There were a few students in particular that encouraged me along the way, and they probably didn't even know it. They would make comments like, "You are going to be a great ag teacher", "I really like when you teach our class because I learn a lot", "We want you to teach us about ____ (insert various topics!)", "You are very professional and are a good student teacher". These little comments made me feel good and made me feel like I was doing it right! I was surprised at the respect that I gained from the students, especially some of the senior boys... who know everything (or think they do)!!! Every morning I generally see the same group of students before school start because the same students make their way to the ag room. I always say "GOOD MORNING ______(insert name of student) when I see them. One day, I didn't say good morning to a particular student because I had other things going on. This student said good morning to me first. Later, this student came up to me and asked if everything was okay because I didn't say "Good Morning" in my bubbly, excited voice like I do every morning. I was told that this student knew something was wrong/on my mind because this student had to say "Good Morning" to me first. I didn't realize the impact that I was making, just by saying Good Morning to the students; but they came to expect it, whether they realized it or not. Until this day, I did not realize how many little things can impact a student's life.

I know that I made an impact in the lives of these students, AND they made an impact on me! I loved every minute of being at Greenwood! This was a great experience and I was blessed to have such an awesome group of students to work with!  I could not have asked for a better experience!  When I finished a day, I felt a personal satisfaction because I was able to impact the lives of students.  And it never felt like “work” because I loved what I was doing!  You can’t get any more rewarding than that!

Submitted by:
Kaydee Gearhart
2013 Student Teacher
Greenwood High School

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